Mayor John Lee expressed concern again today at the lack of trauma facilities for critically injured victims in the northern Las Vegas area, including North Las Vegas proper.
Just weeks ago at the end of March, four victims were injured and one killed as the result of a collision at the intersection of Alexander and Clayton. Despite having non-life threatening injuries, the four victims were transported to the University Medical Center’s Level 1 trauma center, usually tasked with handling only highly critical injuries. Had other options existed, the patients could have received treatment much sooner at a closer facility, allowing emergency medical transport to be ready for more serious injuries warranting UMC’s more specialized care.
Such is the latest in a string of incidents illustrating the powerful need for more trauma centers aside from UMC’s. There are currently an estimated 2.1 million residents in Clark County, yet the expansive region only has two other trauma centers available for critical injuries that go above and beyond typical emergency department care.
The Growing Medical Needs of North Las Vegas
Currently, St. Rose Dominican Hospital’s Siena Campus operates the only Level 3 trauma center in Southern Nevada, and Sunrise Hospital operates the sole Level 2 center. Higher trauma center Level numbers correspond to less critical levels of care, with Level 1 indicating the highest possible capability for handling life-threatening traumatic wounds and other serious conditions.
The scarcity of such centers outside of the UMC system has Southern Nevada residents worried about their ability to receive prompt care in an emergency. After an accident or incident, the first 60 minutes are a critical time where a medical intervention could mean the difference between life and death.
Recognizing this threat to the health and safety of North Las Vegas residents, Mayor John Lee wrote a letter in February to the Regional Trauma Advisory Board arguing for the construction of a Level 3 trauma center at Mountain View Hospital, which is located at the corner of U.S. Route 95 and Cheyenne Ave. Adding this facility would shave vital seconds off the time between the pickup of a victim in North Las Vegas and the care needed to stabilize their condition. It would also relieve pressure from UMC to treat practically every last trauma patient in the region, allowing them time to focus on more critical cases that warrant their advanced, specialized 22,000 sq ft trauma facilities.
However, a high patient load seems to be exactly what UMC wants. UMC trauma medical director Dr. John Fildes likened the opening of lower-level trauma centers to “dismantling” the capabilities of UMC’s own facility. Likely paramount to his concerns is the threshold of 1,200 admitted patients needed a year in order for the facility to maintain accreditation as a teaching hospital according to requirements from the American College of Surgeons. In 2015, the facility received 2,082 trauma patients, up from 2013’s low of 1,607.
The Southern Nevada Board of health will possibly weigh the issue as soon as May when the public board meeting is scheduled to take place. Southern Nevada residents should rest assured that, regardless of the outcome, individuals like North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee will pursue the best interests of their citizens.